Allegrini 2018

From 900 million to 6 billion euros of exports: 30 years of “Renaissance” of Italian wine worldwide

The American journalist Burton Anderson, awarded by the Grandi Marchi, was the first to tell this story in the 1980s

In 1982, the Italy of Enzo Bearzot and Paolo Rossi won the “Mundial” in Spain, while an American journalist, Burton Anderson, published “Vino. The Wines & Winemakers of Italy”, in fact, the first book of international caliber that shone the light on the international markets, USA and UK in the lead, but not only, on an Italy of wine that was unknown, and which, driven by a few great wine families and by some artisans, began its revolution, or rather its wine “Renaissance”, which would have led it, in 30 years, to be one of the leading countries in the markets of the whole world. A fundamental contribution, that of Burton Anderson, awarded today in Florence in Palazzo Antinori by the Istituto Grandi Marchi led by Piero Mastroberardino (which brings together 19 of the most prestigious wineries in Italy, such as Alois Lageder, Ambrogio and Giovanni Folonari Tenute, Antinori, Argiolas, Col d’Orcia, Ca’ del Bosco, Carpenè Malvolti, Donnafugata, Gaja, Jermann, Lungarotti, Masi, Mastroberardino, Michele Chiarlo, Pio Cesare, Rivera, Tasca d’Almerita, Tenuta San Guido and Umani Ronchi, who combine a turnover of 570 million euros and 6% of all Italian wine exports), in a meeting, moderated by journalist Daniele Cernilli, divided between memories and prospects. How much Italian wine has changed, “first of all thanks to the fact that it has focused on quality”, have said to one voice producers that the “Renaissance” of wine have lived as protagonists, from Piero Antinori, at the head of the Marchesi Antinori, to “Mr. Amarone” Sandro Boscaini (Masi Agricola), Angelo Gaja, say the numbers: in the face of almost unchanged world consumption (240 million hectolitres at the end of the 1980s, 246 in 2018), Italy has gone from 12.6 to 19.5 million hectolitres exported, and especially from 919 million euros (in 1991) to over 6.2 billion euros in value, changing not only the quantities, but the composition of its exports, as explained by Denis Pantini (Nomisma): ”at the end of the 1980s, Italy exported practically one-third of what it consumed internally, while now, for several years now, one of the two bottles produced has been exported. Until 30 years ago, moreover, more than half of our exports were tied to bulk wine, while today the latter weighs only 20% in quantity and 5% in value. Finally, as far as the destination markets are concerned, if the European Union area was once the first destination for Italy, with Germany playing the lion’s share, by now the centre of gravity has shifted to other markets, the United States in the lead, where our country recorded a 230% increase in the total quantity of wine exported from 1990 to 2018”. And the USA, the reference market for Italy (and where Italy is playing the leader of the market share point to point with France), are a measure of the aspect on which the future of Italian wine is played, because if the average value of American imports is $ 6.2 per liter for bottled wine, not only Italy is far from France (9.6 dollars) and also from New Zealand (7.3), is also below the average, with a firm price at 5.8 euros per liter.
For this reason, perhaps, despite the commendable efforts of the companies, which have brought home results, we need a new Burton Anderson, perhaps in Asia, to give there to a new chapter in the history of Italian wine.
“The first Italian wine I tasted was a flak of Chianti, and so I wrote an article about the “fiasco” in every sense, as a container of wine, and in the sense of “making fiasco”, and I have made many - joked Burton Anderson - and I am writing this book that traces my career, playfully, through many articles that I wrote, and that I hope to publish soon, because today it is not easy to publish books.
“Burton was a figure capable of lighting up the changes in our small world of Italian wine, and from the outside he pointed out to us the differences in approach to work, which then also changed the way we place Italian wine”, stressed Piero Mastroberardino.
“To Anderson we owe a lot, his “Wine” has cleared the Italian wine in the world - added Sandro Boscaini - because in a new form he has brought to the knowledge of the world the sense of what was happening in the country, when in all areas flourished the desire to make quality, authenticity and excellence. A lot of progress has been made, also thanks to the DOC, born with the law of 1963, and whose first results have been seen since the 1980s, and today we are perhaps in excess, with more than 520 PDO and PGI, which are sometimes “good meat”, other “meat tanned” by politics”, said producer and president of Federvini. “From those years, however, was born the success of the Italian wine, and today nothing represents the diversity of Italian excellence as our wine, present all over the world”.
The merit of Burton Anderson, underlined Cernilli , was also that of “being the first to be able to tell, in a modern way, an Italian wine that is a complex world for its many territories and on the vines, in years when not even Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino were famous, perhaps someone more in the world knew Barolo. He opened up to many people in the world the possibility of getting to know Italian wine, and of becoming curious about it”.
“Today is the memory of a magical period - added Piero Antinori - which was the beginning of a virtuous process carried out in a relatively short period, with Italian wine arrived at successes that no one would ever have imagined, in what I call “the Renaissance”, of Italian wine. Among the protagonists of this beautiful story, there is Burton Anderson, who was really the first non-Italian journalist who talked about Italian wine, who cleared it internationally, and as winemakers, we can't forget it. We must have deep affection and gratitude for a very serious person, competent and in love with Italian wine and Italy, who has made us understand the potential of Italian wine”.
“With his work Anderson - said Angelo Gaja - made the world understand that there was an Italian wine different from the “cheap and cheerful”, and that to sell it, it had to be offered at a lower price than the cheapest of French wines. And recognizing Antinori as the initiator of the Italian Renaissance, he put around him a small galaxy of small/medium sized wineries and various artisans already recognized on the Italian market, which he trusted, and made it clear that there was a chance to reach the markets of the world. He has done an extraordinary job, he deserves a monument, and today’s prize fills a gap, because we must learn to say at least thanks to those who have brought so many benefits to Italian wine. Anderson’s work for Teresa Severini, heading with her sister Chiara Lungarotti of the famous Umbrian winery Lungarotti , is just as important for the diffusion of Italian wine as the Italian cuisine in the world. A moment of remembrance and reflection on the past, which also serves the world of Italian wine to reflect on its future, in a scenario that changes even more rapidly than it has in 40 years, and it is experiencing a real revolution in the market and in consumption.

Focus - the Istituto Grandi Marchi Award to Burton Anderson
“He made Made in Italy wine famous beyond national borders and with his first book written in the early 1980s, Vino. The Wines & Winemakers of Italy, has made a significant contribution to the spread of Italian wine in the world, making known the originality, potential and territorial excellence”. This is the reason behind the award that the Istituto del Vino Italiano di Qualità Grandi Marchi presented today in Florence, in Palazzo Antinori, to the American journalist Burton Anderson. Born in Minnesota, he was for several years a correspondent from Paris for the International Herald Tribune, but after a trip to Tuscany in the late 70s, he chose the Belpaese as an “adoptive home” to cultivate his true passion: Italian wine. For over 40 years, in fact, he has lived in Tuscany, devoting himself to the discovery and knowledge of the wine realities of the Belpaese, mostly unknown internationally at the time of his arrival. Defined by the New York Times as “the main authority on Italian wines written in English”, in 2007 he was included in the Hall of Fame of the writers of the Wine Media Guild in New York, while in 2009 he was nominated by the Wines of Italy Hall of Fame of the Italian Trade Commission in New York, thanks to his significant contributions.

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